By its very nature, history opens the door to questions about morality and ethics—questions about justice, about what is right and what is wrong; questions about how apply our understanding of the past to today and to the future. In their article, “Enriching Ethical Judgments in History Education,” authors Andrea Milligan, Lindsay Gibson, and Carla L. Peck explain that the majority of historians today view ethical judgments as a critical part of history teaching.
How Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (2017) Changes IEPs: A look at IDEA for General Education Teachers
Most general education teachers receive training on education law in their credential programs, where they learn about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), student Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and teacher responsibilities for working with students with special needs. However, authors Michael A. Couvillon et al. argue that education law is an area in which teachers should receive ongoing training provided by school districts: “Special education law is one area of information that should be included in staff development activities of public school teaching and administrators; unfortunately, it is frequently overlooked” (1).
In many traditional classrooms, teachers deliver lectures and students then work on problems or skill-building outside of school. The idea of flipping the classroom turns this structure around. In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures outside of the classroom and then engage in collaborative problem solving or critical thinking in the classroom. In their paper, “Applying ‘First Principles of Instruction’ as a Design Theory of the Flipped Classroom: Findings from a Collective Study of Four Secondary School Subjects,” authors Chung Kwan Lo et al. present empirically tested design methods for running a successful flipped classroom.
They look like pens. They look like USB drives. Some even look like small, slick classroom remote devices. But they’re not used to record or transmit information. These devices are used for vaping.
Over the past five years, vaping—using e-cigarettes—has become increasingly prevalent among both teens and adults, and teachers have no doubt heard students discuss the topic, either in their classrooms or in the hallways at school. But many teachers may be unaware of the statistics about teen vaping and vaping’s link to future marijuana use.
How Mentors Help At-Risk Students Find Confidence in Themselves and in School
Every school has some population of at-risk students. These students often struggle to maintain passing grades, have truancy records and discipline problems, and are indeed at-risk of losing enrollment in their current schools. Importantly, at-risk students also often have difficult home lives and may experience one-parent households, difficulties associated with poverty, inconsistent adult role models, and insufficient quality time and care from adults.
In their paper, “Making a difference with at-risk students: The benefits of a mentoring program in middle school,” authors Suzanne F. Lindt and Cody Blair note that over the past 20 years, mentoring programs have been increasingly used as a way to support at-risk students. Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, TEAMmates, Study Buddies, and The Mentoring Project have been shown to not only support students’ socio-emotional wellbeing, but also their academic standing. Lindt and Blair remark, for example, that previous studies have shown that mentored students felt more confident about schoolwork and were significantly less likely to be truant compared to their non-mentored peers (35).
Teaching Social Studies in the Era of “Alternative Facts”
In his article, “Fake News, Alternative Facts, and Trump: Teaching Social Studies in a Post-Truth Era,” Wayne Journell paints a clear picture of how the current government leadership and the American media have together birthed the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” It is in this era that American citizens can willingly “disregard verifiable facts as fake simply because they contradict their agenda” or their own worldview (8). It is in this era that American citizens can turn to media outlets of their choice to hear news and ideas that only reinforce their own viewpoints. It is in this era that Social Studies teachers are needed more than ever. Journell remarks that “both political thinking and media literacy are skills that need to be taught and practiced over time” (10). While teacher training and education research will continue to address these topics, Journell offers some guidance for Social Studies teachers in the meantime.
Emphasizing Concepts vs. Procedures in Math: Student Achievement and Social Justice
Over the past few decades, teachers in the United States have faced increasing pressure to boost American students’ mathematics achievement. Comparisons with other countries have revealed that American students lag behind in math achievement, especially when compared to student performance in Japan and Singapore. Thus, American education leaders and policymakers have prioritized mathematics achievement in part to secure America as a globally competitive and innovative nation (Yu 82).
In their paper, “Teacher support, instructional practices, student motivation, and mathematics achievement in high school,” authors Rongrong Yu and Kusum Singh explain that for the past 20 years, mathematics educators and administrators have been engaged in “mathematics wars,” heated debates that have pitted those who favor procedural teaching against those who favor conceptual teaching (81).
Previous studies have shown that students in high-achieving countries like Japan and Singapore “spend more time on inventing, analyzing, and proving, with less time on routine procedures, but U.S. students spend almost all their time on routine procedures” (83).
It’s not interesting. It’s not relevant. Too often teachers hear these phrases from students in science and mathematics classes. In their article, “The impact of college- and university-run high school summer programs on students’ end of high school STEM career aspirations,” Joseph A. Kitchen et al. argue that in order to inspire students to not only find interest in STEM content, but to ultimately choose STEM career paths, it is essential for STEM classes and programs to keep content relevant. The authors show that instructors can significantly and positively alter students’ perceptions of STEM subjects by engaging students with real-world applications and actual professionals in STEM fields (13).
The authors note that it is during high school when many students start seriously considering their future career paths. Given that high school students’ aspirations are still malleable, it is also a prime time for STEM instructors to promote not just present understanding of STEM subjects, but students’ future trajectory for STEM career choices (12).
Vocabulary Instruction in High School Social Studies Classes: General Academic Terms are Overlooked
For the last 20 years, there has been almost no change in students’ measured achievement in the area of social studies in grades 4-12 (273). According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), only 45% of American 12th graders score at or above the basic level for social studies content, as they have for decades (273). In their paper, “An investigation of high school social studies teachers’ understandings of vocabulary teaching and learning,” authors Janis Harmon et al. explain that to address this issue of academic stagnation, education standards—especially Common Core—are now emphasizing “disciplinary literacy, that is a focus on the specific literacy demands unique to the various content areas and the sub disciplines within each area” (272).
What Does “Trustworthy Evidence” Mean to Students?
Facebook. Instagram. 24-hour news. Twitter. Gossip. Newspapers. School. Television. Today students are bombarded with information about the world. As accessing information becomes easier, the task of determining the accuracy of information becomes increasingly difficult. What is fact? What is misleading? What is trustworthy evidence?
In their paper, “Thinking Deeply, Thinking Emotionally: How High School Students Make Sense of Evidence” authors Rebecca Jacobsen et al. explain that teachers are “increasingly being asked to prepare students to both evaluate information critically and use evidence to construct arguments” (2). These education requirements are set in national education standards, including Common Core for English Language Arts, History/Social Science, and Technical Subjects, as well as in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (2). The authors note that in the NGSS, students “engage in arguments from evidence” starting in kindergarten (2).
Jacobsen et al. remark that for these education standards, it is assumed that students know what evidence is and that all students accept and use evidence is similar ways. Previous studies have shown that this is not always the case, however.